THE son of a boxing legend says he is "gutted" after thieves stole his father’s precious gold championship belt from his South Bucks home.
John Petersen has offered a four figure reward for information leading to the safe return of the Lonsdale British Heavyweight Championship belt, won outright by his father Jack in 1933 after two successful title defences.
The nine carat gold prize was taken from his farm house on Dropmore Road, Burnham sometime between March 12 and May 14, with the pensioner only noticing it was missing when he searched his parlour.
And Mr Petersen is now appealing for the safe return of the iconic belt, which has huge sentimental value to his family.
"I’m absolutely gutted it’s gone," he said. "I am horrified because I am supposed to be looking after it for my family and my father.
"It is a family heirloom and it’s hard to think anyone would enter someone’s home and just walk off with something as special as this. It’s very, very sad for us all.
"I didn’t have it on display, but did show it to people interested in sporting memorabilia and I’m worried someone told the wrong person that I had it and they just came in to take it."
"No reputable dealer or seller would touch it as it’s stolen, but there is a worry a collector would have it stolen to order, or worse someone might melt it down for the value of the gold."
The belt is just one of two original heavyweight belts in existence, after Lord Lonsdale commissioned London jeweller Mappin and Webb to make the championship prizes in 1909.
Mr Petersen suspects the burglars came in through his front door and deliberately targeted the belt, since there was no sign of forced entry and no other items stolen.
The precious heirloom is insured for £20,000, but Mr Petersen claims the actual value may be higher, with a similar belt having sold for elsewhere for £35,000.
Jack was crowned British Heavyweight Champion in 1932, just two months after winning the light-heavyweight title and was the first Welshman to achieve the accolade.
He successfully defended his title twice during the following year to win the belt outright, and retired from the sport in 1937 aged 25.
The boxing legend also claimed the British Empire title in 1934, now known as the Commonwealth title, on his way to career total of 33 wins from 38 fights.
In 1986 Jack became president of the British Board of Boxing Control and was awarded an OBE for services to sport before his death aged 79 in 1990.
The theft is set to be featured on BBC’s Crimewatch in July, with camera crews visiting Mr Petersen’s farm house this week to film a reconstruction.
Anyone with information should contact PC Ian Williams from Taplow police station via the 24-hour Thames Valley Police Enquiry Line on 101.
If you don’t want to speak directly to the police you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org